USD 25B Manager Wealthfront Goes Crypto, Metamask Boom, Delayed Bitcoin ETF + More News

Get your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptoasset and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.

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Adoption news

  • The California-based digital wealth robo-adviser management firm with over USD 25bn in assets under management, Wealthfront will open up a range of crypto investment options to its customers later in 2021, Reuters reported, adding that it was “the latest sign of growing acceptance of digital assets by mainstream finance.” Wealthfront clients will not be allowed to put all their funds into crypto, the firm’s CEO was quoted as stating. But the firm said that it had made the move to reflect “a growing desire from millennial and gen Z investors.” The company made no mention of the cryptoassets it was prepared to allow its customers access to.
  • Some 6 months after surpassing 1m cumulative monthly active users across their browser extension and mobile app, major Ethereum (ETH) wallet and Web 3.0 browser MetaMask said it has grown an additional 5x, and is used by more than 5m users every month. A growing number of users are using MetaMask Swaps, which has witnessed over USD 2bn in accumulated transaction volume over the past 6 months. Additionally, increasingly more people living in the Global South are using crypto to earn a supplemental income or to make long-term investments, it said.

Investments news

  • Electric carmaker Tesla said that the fair market value of bitcoin (BTC) it held as of March 31 was USD 2.48bn, while they purchased and received USD 1.5bn during the first three months of the year. Per the filling with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it recorded USD 27m of impairment losses on its bitcoin investment in the three months ended March, and realized gains of USD 128m through sales.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday delayed its decision on approving the VanEck Bitcoin ETF until June as the regulator’s new chief begins to review high-profile asset applications, CNBC reported.
  • Blockchain technology provider Alchemy has raised USD 80m from investors led by Coatue Management and Addition LP, giving the startup a USD 500m valuation, Bloomberg reported. The fresh capital will help Alchemy expand the developer tools it provides to blockchains other than just Ethereum, strengthen its presence in New York and Southern California, and allow it to open offices in Europe and Asia, it added.

Exchanges news

  • Coinbase Pro has announced the delay of the launch of trading on tether (USDT), "in order to have full confidence in a successful launch of tether," they said. The new target date is Monday, May 3. Transfers remain available, they added.
  • The Japanese financial giant SBI has announced that its crypto mining and crypto exchange operations had a bumper financial year in the FY2020 period, which ended last month. The company unveiled gross crypto business profits of USD 174m, almost double its FY2019 gross figure of USD 92m. The business group said it was still intending to launch a Singapore-based exchange with the Swiss firm Six in a bid to boost “liquidity” for “institutional investors” with a penchant for crypto.

Regulation news

  • Turkey is planning to regulate its crypto market by establishing a central custodian bank to eliminate counterparty risk following the collapse of the Thodex and Vebitcoin exchanges last week, Bloomberg reported, citing "a senior official familiar with the plans." Authorities are also pondering a capital threshold for exchanges and education requirements for executives at such firms.

Banking news

  • Financial services group DBS, banking giant JPMorgan, and Singapore state investor Temasek have announced plans to develop an open industry platform to "reimagine and accelerate value movements for payments, trade and foreign exchange settlement in a new digital era, through a newly-established technology company" - called Partior ('to distribute and share' in Latin). The companies said that they are acknowledging that the future of global payments is on the cusp of a fundamental shift, adding that Partior aims to disrupt the traditional cross-border payments ‘hub and spoke’ model, that has resulted in common pain points, as well as costly and onerous post transaction exception handling and reconciliation activities. Partior’s platform will also be designed to complement ongoing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) initiatives and use cases.

DeFi news

  • Balancer Labs (BAL), an automated market maker (AMM), and Gnosis (GNO), a protocol suite for decentralized finance (DeFi) market mechanisms, announced the launch of Balancer-Gnosis-Protocol (BGP). This decentralized exchange (DEX) will combine the new and improved Vault system of Balancer V2 with Gnosis Protocol’s price-finding mechanism, said the emailed press release. The aim of the BGP is to self-regulate the space to move from current fixed rules that apply specific parameters, to upgradeable rules via governance that change parameters according to market conditions. It will be released in stages.
  • The Solana Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and growing the Solana (SOL) network, has announced it will be launching a global hackathon focused on Web3, DeFi, and non-fungible token (NFT) solutions. The Solana Season hackathon will take place over the course of three weeks starting on May 1, and it's open to teams from around the globe. Per the emailed press release, it will have a global prize pool of USD 400,000, as well as potential seed funding, adding up to USD 1m in prizes.
  • US officials have been granted an arrest warrant for the alleged operator of a BTC mixing service Bitcoin Fog, Roman Sterlingov, on allegations of laundering nearly USD 336m in BTC over 10 years. Charges brought against Sterlingov are unlicensed money transmission, money laundering, and money transmission without a license. Bitcoin Fog allows its customers to transfer bitcoin to each other while obfuscating where the coins are being sent from, per an affidavit filed by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) Special Agent Devon Beckett. Per Wired, Sterlingov has already been arrested.

NFTs news

  • The fast-expanding Japanese blockchain gamemaker double.jump has struck a deal with the gaming giant Sega. double.jump has been stepping up its non-fungible tokens game of late. The agreement with Sega will see the latter release a series of game-related content as NFTs, leveraging a “number of its globally popular intellectual property titles,” reported Cnet Japan. Sega’s holding company has also made an investment in the Tokyo-based startup, although the size of the funding boost was not disclosed.

(Updated at 17:50 UTC: Wealthfront has clarified it has USD 26bn in assets under management, not USD 16bn as stated earlier.)